— A Tesla Model S fire investigation conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is still in its preliminary stage as federal safety investigators try to determine how the fire started.
As with similar investigations of Tesla and other companies, the NTSB is using the data to learn how to best handle incidents involving all-electric vehicles and how fire departments and other personnel tackle electric vehicle fires.
Car fires aren't rare, but fires in all-electric cars can pose different challenges to first responders compared to gasoline-powered cars.
The NTSB says unique safety issues exist for fire departments, towing companies and ambulance personnel when approaching electric cars involved in crashes or fires. Real fears exist due to the risk of electrical shock, and then there are the possibilities of post-crash fires that can occur from smoldering batteries hours after the incidents.
The 2014 Model S fire occurred in June 2018 as the 44-year-old driver was traveling on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood and noticed other drivers waving because they saw smoke coming from the car.
The Tesla driver pulled over and exited the Model S as smoke poured from the front of the car, then flames were coming from under the car on both the left and right sides near the front wheels (pictured above).
Police and fire personnel were immediately on the scene and the fire was extinguished with water and foam after parts of the front fender and hood were removed.
Firefighters called Tesla about the best way to secure the Model S and get it towed away, learning from Tesla about the possibility a fire could flare up until the battery was completely cooled down.
With the Model S safely towed away and no resulting injuries, the car was moved to a Tesla service center where the battery pack and cover were removed to drain the remaining electrical charge. The car was reassembled and taken away for inspection by Tesla engineers.
The NTSB wasn't there for the initial inspection but from that point federal investigators have been part of the inspection process. At this point safety inspectors say all aspects of the Model S fire and response are under investigation.
It could be months until the NTSB releases a probable cause for the fire, but CarComplaints.com will update our website with results of the investigation.